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Friday
Apr222011

Develop a positive relationship with food - be a mindful eater!  

Mindful eating is about appreciating food.  If we were all more mindful when eating, we would live in a happier and healthier place. 

We are becoming more and more disconnected from our food and as a result, our relationship with food can become a dysfunctional one.  Few of us grow our own food, and more of us no longer prepare our own food.  Everyone is busy and preparing food can often feel like a burden.   Many individuals and families depend on packaged foods, fast food, and restaurants.  We are prone to relying on food to help us deal with stress, tiredness, and our emotions.  At the end of the day we end up feeling guilty for eating.  Not everyone has a dysfunctional relationship with food, but I’d hazard to guess that everyone could relate to the occasional “bad” moment with food. 

To improve our relationship with food, here are five mindfulness exercises:

  1. Ask yourself, “Am I hungry?”  This simple question will help you recognize your biological need for food, and help you better identify hunger and satiety cues.  Hormones are released and the brain is signaled when we are hungry and full.   It takes 20 minutes before your brain starts to recognize that you are getting full, so take your time when eating.
  2. Identify triggers for mindless eating.  Are you eating when bored, sad, or stressed, or are there certain foods that you tend to overeat?  By identifying situations when you overeat, you can take steps to change that behavior.  Find something else to help you deal with the stress, talk with a friend to cope with your emotions; go for a walk or do something with your hands if you feel bored.
  3. Focus on the quality versus the quantity of food.  If going out to eat, choose foods that are made with good quality ingredients rather than looking for the largest portions.
  4. Appreciate the taste, smell, texture, and satiating effect of food.  Food is something we need, so enjoy it!  We don’t need to feel guilty about eating.  Not only does food provide us with energy and nutrients for growth and maintenance, but it also tastes great.  Allow yourself to have the foods you love, but do so in moderation.  When you have foods that should be eaten in smaller quantities (like desserts), savor every bite and feel good about it.
  5. Be thankful for the experience of food.  I think this is a great first step towards developing a more positive relationship with our food.  If we are thankful for the food we eat, we automatically think more positively about food and our connection with food. 

Getting more connected to our food can also mean learning more about where our food comes from.  Ask your grocer where fruits, vegetables and meats come from.  Visit farmers markets and see what is in season in your area.  Take your kids to a farm and see how the chickens are kept, how the cows are milked, and what crops are growing.  Go berry picking in the summer and visit an orchard in the fall.  Appreciate fresh, local, and nourishing benefits of food.  

Next time you eat, eat slowly, savor your food, and appreciate all the sensual and nourishing qualities of food.  Be present in the moment, and be thankful.  Love your food.

“Engaging in mindful eating… a different kind of nourishment often emerges, the kind that offers satisfaction on a very deep emotional level.” (www.tcme.org)  

 

References:

The Centre for Mindful Eating. www.tcme.org

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